Judge James Ware

U.S. District Chief Judge James Ware plans to issue a written ruling within 24 hours on a motion to vacate Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional. And it sure sounds like Ware intends to rule against Prop 8 supporters, who say Walker should have recused himself because he’s gay and was in a long-term same-sex relationship.

Reuters reports that Ware, who’s African-American, sharply questioned attorneys for Prop 8 supporters during today’s hearing on the motion. “If a reasonable person thought a black judge should recuse himself from a civil rights case, that would be sufficient to recuse the judge?” Ware said.

The LA Times reports that Ware also noted there is no evidence Walker ever wished to marry his partner.

From the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the groups that filed a brief in May opposing the motion:

“Today’s hearing made it crystal clear that the Prop 8 proponents’ central claim — that Judge Walker should have recused himself from the case because he is in a same-sex relationship — is absolutely baseless. During the hearing, Judge Ware pointedly asked the attorney for the proponents whether an African-American judge would have to recuse himself from a race discrimination case because some people might view him as biased. As Judge Ware’s question artfully showed, our legal system does not assume that judges who are in the majority with respect to their race, religion, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristic are the only ones who can be unbiased. Judges take an oath to be impartial and do their job faithfully. It is outrageous and offensive to suggest that a gay judge is incapable of fulfilling that vow, or that Judge Walker did not do so in this case. We are hopeful that the ruling will dismiss this bigoted attempt to discredit Judge Walker’s eminently sound ruling that concluded correctly, after weeks of trial and months of careful consideration, that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.”

NCLR also noted that today’s hearing included argument on a motion by Prop 8 supporters to force the plaintiffs’ lawyers to return their copies of the video recordings of the trial. Ware announced that he intends to issue a written ruling denying that motion and permitting the lawyers to keep the tapes.